Ten Ways to Save on Airport Parking

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At my own home airport of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, parking in the garages near the terminals costs $22 per 24 hours for self-parking, and $26 per day if you choose to valet park. Some airports in higher priced cities, such as at Chicago’s O’Hare cost even more with valet parking ringing in at $61 per day. If you are spending $20, $30, or a staggering $61 per day on airport parking, your family will quickly owe hundreds of dollars just for airport parking before your vacation is over.

Thankfully, there are actually many options when it comes to the decision of where to leave your car when you fly, and lots of the options cost much less than you may think. Here is a rundown of ways to save money on airport parking.

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Get dropped off at the airport by a family member or friend

You may roll your eyes at this obvious tip #1, but getting dropped off at the airport by a friend or family member is by far the easiest and most effective way to save money on airport parking. If you are flying with young kids, I cannot overstate the value of being dropped off curbside at the airport. Not only will it obviously save you money over paying for airport parking, but you will save time and hassle by eliminating the drama that can be associated with shuttle buses, hauling around car seats, luggage, and potentially tiring out little feet before you even get into the airport.

We fly so frequently that we don’t bother family members for rides to the airport every single time we fly, but on longer trips, we often swap chauffeur roles with my parents, taking turns dropping each other off at the airport.

Price out Uber, taxis, car service, and public transportation options

I promise we are about to get into some options that will save you money if you have to park at the airport, but before you decide that is the best course of action, be sure and price out using Uber, Lyft, a taxi, or car service. Depending on how far you live from the airport and how long you will be gone, one of these services may offer cost savings over parking at the airport. Even if the cost savings is not there, it may be less stressful to not have to factor in time to park and simply get dropped off at the curb, especially when traveling with a family.

If you live in a city with good public transportation to the airport, that will likely be the cheapest way to avoid airport parking short of having a family member drop you off at the terminal.

Do a Google search for airport parking coupons

At most airports there are almost always coupons available for some of the economy and off-airport parking lots. This is especially true if you are parking over a weekend or for more than a couple of days. I would start with a Google search that says “discount parking coupons at LAX” and substitute in your specific airport. Additionally, check on Groupon for airport parking coupons and discounts for your location as there are usually a plethora of discounts available.

Check directly with the airport for available parking discounts

In addition to running a generic search for discounted airport parking options, check directly with your airport’s website for available discounts. For example, at Houston’s IAH you can save 20% on economy parking of three days or longer with a coupon available on the website. This drops your official airport parking price to as low as $4.43 per day.

Bundle an airport hotel stay with extended parking

If you are considering a hotel stay near the airport either at the start or end of your trip, you may be able to leave your car at the hotel and simply take the hotel’s shuttle to the airport for less than the cost of parking at the terminal. It is always worth asking if you might be able to simply leave your car for free, but often there is some sort of ‘park and fly’ package that costs more than just the lowest priced hotel room. However, the added fee is not always very high.

As an example, at the Hyatt Place Houston Bush Airport property, the Park, Stay, and Fly package was only $19 more than the basic cost of a hotel night for up to 14 days of parking. That works out to an average of just $1.35 per day on a 14 day trip.

You may be best served by checking with the various airport hotels directly, but you can also use a site such as Park Fly Sleep to not only find some park, sleep, and fly deals, but to also view offers to park at airport hotels without actually staying there.

The official prices to park at Newark Airport are $18 – $39 per day, but Park Fly Sleep website displayed a price of just $6.39 per day to park at the Renaissance Newark Airport. As a side note, I stayed at that hotel years ago it was above average for an airport hotel.

Use a parking app or website to find cheap airport parking

There are many apps and website that will help you secure discounted parking spots both at and away from the airport. It is probably worth checking several different sites if you want to find the absolutely cheapest airport parking for your area since the prices vary site to site. In addition to the already mentioned ParkSleepFly, a few discounted parking websites to check are:

Get paid to leave your car with Travelcar

If you don’t want cheap airport parking, but you want free airport parking, then you should consider Travelcar. This option will not be for everyone, but Travelcar allows you to not only park for free, but actually get paid for every mile that your car is driven while you are gone by their renters. For what it is worth, you also get a car wash to go along with your free parking.

There are lots of caveats to dig into with this one, such as that your car must be less than 7 years old, have no more than 95,000 miles on the odometer, and you have to be okay with strangers driving it while you are away. Travelcar does provide $1 million in liability insurance and coverage against theft and physical damage. If you are looking at a longer trip of a month or greater, Travelcar offers flat rate monthly payments of $200 – $500 instead of payments based on how many miles your car is driven.

Look into monthly airport parking options if you fly frequently

If you are a frequent airport parking customer, it makes sense to consider monthly parking memberships. Not all airports or parking lots offer these memberships, but you won’t know until you ask. As an example, the San Antonio Airport has a monthly parking program in their short or long term parking lots that can even be shared with family members or coworkers.

Park for free at some smaller regional airports

Free parking is just about unheard of at major airports, but it can still be found at smaller airports, a few of which have scheduled passenger service. For example, the St. Cloud Regional Airport in Minnesota is served by Allegiant Airlines and offers free parking. Word on the internet is that there is also free parking at the airport in Casper, Wyoming, that is serviced by United and Delta…maybe. If you are flying on a chartered or private plane, there may be free parking available to you out of the FBO.

Take advantage of free airport parking promotions

Even major airports occasionally throw out free parking via limited-time promotions, so I recommend following your local airports on social media to stay in the loop on these offers. As an example, DFW has offered free parking during peak travel times such as Thanksgiving for the first 1,000 cars!

Pay with a credit card that rewards airport parking

Finally, assuming you have to pay something for your airport parking, be sure you are maximizing that expense. Some parking lots and programs offer points or even frequent flyer miles for your parking, so look into those programs wherever you decide to park. When it comes time to actually pay the bill, pay with a credit card that will give you a bonus on parking charges.

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred typically award bonus points on parking charges at 3x and 2x points per dollar respectively. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card also awards 3x points on most parking charges under its travel category. Learn more.

Airport parking charges are never fun, but they don’t have to be overly painful if you know how to look for discounts and alternatives to paying through the nose to park at the terminal. How does your family save money on airport parking?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. If you look at one of those parking websites that allow you to book parking at various hotels/motels for a given daily price, you may want to call the hotel/motel directly to see if they will allow you to pay them directly to park there. We found a Super 8 on one of these websites for Charlotte, NC parking, and we called Super 8 directly. They charged us $2 less than the parking website does ($3 a day); we don’t have to make a reservation with them; and we can use their shuttle bus to get to and from the airport. Now we always park at this same motel whenever we fly out of Charlotte. It makes sense that they would want to cut out the fee paid to the middleman!

    • Yes 100% I recommend checking with the hotels directly, too. If you want the absolute cheapest price, be ready to do a little leg work. Paying $3 per day to park is fantastic!

  2. I never ever drive my own car to the airport. I know not everyone has the same situation but here is why:
    – I live 20 minutes from my home airport so Uber is pretty cheap.
    – The time savings in not having to find a parking spot at the airport is huge.
    – Airport parking spaces are usually extremely tight to maximize the number of cars they can accommodate. Thus, it is the perfect place to get your car dents, dings and scratches all over the place.
    – After a long trip all I don’t want is to take a shuttle to a parking and find my car (yes, not always easy to find it). By the time I do that I am halfway to my home by using a Uber.

    • Absolutely price check and consider options like Uber. I agree that adding in hurdles like shuttle buses and tight spots comes at a cost, so just factor it all in.

  3. One way to save is a way that people who live near the airport hate. It is to park in the neighborhood and walk to the airport. This works only if you are willing to leave your car outside and if the city allows long term parking. Often it may only be good for a weekend trip.

    Airports that seem to have residential parking within a mile of the airport include:

    Seattle
    San Diego
    Chicago Midway
    Louisville, KY
    San Antonio, TX
    Little Rock, AR
    (?) Washington National

    • This also works for cities with acceptable public transportation to airports.

      Eg. there is a large public park and ride parking structure along the Dulles Toll Road just west of IAD, that for years was served by the Metrobus 5A every half hour or so headed in and out of the airport. I used that as my airport parking, for $6 r/t in bus fare. Not sure if the 5A still runs, serves that stop, etc, but it’s proof of concept. Fairfax County allowed parking there for up to a week.

      In the SF Bay Area, BART sells long term parking online, for most of its commuter lots, $7/day.

      • Also, BART doesn’t charge for weekends; for example, we recently left on Friday before Memorial Day and returned Memorial Day evening. Only had to pay $7 plus the BART fare into and out of the airport for four days of parking. If you really want to go cheap, the driver drops everyone off at SFO then goes and parks.

  4. We travel internationally for multi-week vacations (cruise, etc). It’s cheaper for us in Florida to rent a car each way than to pay for parking (really expensive for a long stay), as there’s usually no one-way upcharge. We fly from MIA (1.5 hrs away) so the Uber/limo route is totally unaffordable.

    We’ve done the pay-n-park option at a long-term lot or at a hotel but the worries about storm (hurricane) damage or theft make it hard.

  5. becareful at some airports eg JFK,EWR parking by a hotel means not being dropped off or p/u @ The Term, but will mean needing to take the Airtrain to and from the stop where the hotel shuttle buses are allowed to go

    flying with just a carry-on maybe but no way would I park at a hotel; if having to fly with checked bags, just not worth it to save a couple of bucks

    also the hotel shuttles usually are on a fixed time table miss it and you just may miss your flight.while the parking lot shuttles pass by like a crazy and d/o & p/u by the terms, no Airtrain ride needed

    So the extra $1.50 per day is well worth it to me, to park at a reg lot and not a hotel

  6. We live on the other side of town from the airport, but my work is a only few minutes away from the terminal. I’ve had great luck splitting the difference and parking my car at work (free and protected by security) and grabbing an Uber from work to the airport.

  7. It wasn’t mentioned in the article but I use http://www.way.com since they have pretty cheap off-site parking nearby the airport. It’s typically 50% cheaper than airport rates and cheaper than the other websites mentioned above.

    • I have a place booked for 8 nights, for the same lot way.com says its $6.99 thats $1 less perday over what Im paying. Yet when I went to checkout instead of the base rate being $55.72 it was $67.92 or $8.49 a day. PSF had a $14.99 fee for booking and it too was higher even thou they showed a cheaper daily rate

      I highly suggest anyone booking via any of these sites not to compare the daily rate but instead the total cost

      fwiw I used cheapairportparking plus a 2hr grace period to boot

      parking @ EWR

  8. Follow airports on Facebook. While I was traveling my car was parked at RIC. The airport posted a parking special on Facebook that required me to use a PDF coupon (I printed it at my hotel) and pay cash. I’m all about credit cards, but the car was at the airport a month and I saved $80 using the coupon and cash.

  9. I’m lucky, SLC economy lot (uncovered surface parking) $9/day. Shuttle is quick both directions if you know where to park 🙂 I’m hoping things stay the same after the new terminal building is completed…

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